The SGT Daily: What do you comment on Government Decree 86/2013/ND-CP that comprises of new regulations on casinos and players, including the ruling that casino is only provided for foreign passport holders?
– Colin Pine: We are very pleased to see this decree promulgated as it shows how serious the Government is about creating a proper regulatory framework for gaming in Vietnam. It is our understanding that the Government decided to take a measured approach in promulgating a Decree on Electronic Prized Games for Foreigners first, and to then follow that with a decree on casinos subsequently. To have a successful, safe and organized gaming industry, it is important that there be a clear, well-thought-out legal framework that is applied fairly across all of the enterprises operating in that industry. The promulgation of Decree 86/2013/ND-CP is an important step creating a clear legal framework for the gaming industry in Vietnam which is consistent with international standards and we look forward to the passing of a decree on casinos.
How have investors of the Ho Tram Strip responded to the decree? Have they decided to make any changes to the next stages of this US$4.2-billion project after the decree was announced?
– Asian Coast Development Limited (ACDL), the investor of the Ho Tram Strip and parent company of Ho Tram Project Company, was pleased to see that the Decree on Electronic Prized Games for Foreigners passed. The passage of this decree should not have any impacts on the plans for the development of the next stages of the Ho Tram Strip. What will be very important to the company is that the Decree on Casinos provides a legal framework which is consistent with international standards and allows for effective competition with other countries that have large-scale integrated resorts with gaming.
The Grand-Ho Tram Strip came online last month. How many live tables and electronic gaming machines will the Grand-Ho Tram Strip operate in the initial period, out of the 180 live tables and 2,000 electronic gaming machines already licensed to two first integrated resorts of the project?
– The Grand-Ho Tram Strip will be one of two integrated resorts at the Ho Tram Strip, and will include 90 live tables and 1,000 electronic gaming machines. In the first few months we will operate nearly half of the gaming tables and up to 614 positions with our electronic prized games. The number of table games in operation will steadily increase as we get closer to the grand opening later this year.
When will the next phases of the multi-billion dollar project be completed and in operation? What are components of these phases?
– We should be clear about the phases. The Grand-Ho Tram Strip itself will include two phases – phase one, which opened last month with 541 rooms and all associated amenities, and phase two – a second tower which adds another 559 rooms to a total of 1,100. This will be opened in 2015.
The Ho Tram Strip includes much more: The Bluffs – Ho Tram Strip, an 18-hole championship level golf course designed by Greg Norman which will come in to operation in the coming months; a second integrated resort of about the same size as The Grand; and a further three five-star resorts all along our 2.2-kilometer beach. This all represents the biggest tourism development in Vietnam’s history, and will prove a huge draw for visitors from around the world to our project.
What are challenges for the Ho Tram Strip project to operate and be developed successfully when it is located in Ba Ria-Vung Tau, which is far from HCMC and approach roads are not convenient?
– It is a common misconception that the roads between HCMC and Ho Tram are inconvenient. A lot of investment has been put into those roads by the Government to improve them. When the project was first conceived, there were instances of four and five hour trips out to the site, but now the trip can be made in around two hours. When the HCMC-Long Thanh-Dau Giay Expressway is opened to traffic, that will further greatly reduce that trip. Further, when the Long Thanh Airport opens, the Ho Tram Strip will be extremely accessible to international visitors. As the infrastructure in the Southern Economic Hub continues to progress the Ho Tram Strip gets a little closer to HCMC and the portals for foreign visitors each and every year!